Oh wow! What a process this has been. How you you take something you do so subconsciously and make it into something cognitive? I have changed how I want to portray myself as a learner in my personal learning environment (PLE) multiple times and I suspect that, like the diagram, my PLE will constantly evolve. So, here I am, needing to commit to one of my designs and formats.
First, the picture:
I started off using CMAP, but got really tired of seeing so many little boxes all of the page. I tried Bubbl.us and Creately and experienced a learning curve with each of those as well. But when it came time to really buckle down and finalize my PLE, I couldn't seem to accomplish my vision, so I went back to my tried-and-true powerpoint format tonight and then saved it as a JPEG.
By exploring the other tools, I felt like a child in a sandbox...including the part where they have a hissy-fit and knock down the sandcastle before rebuilding it. That is the best way I can describe what a process this has been. And so it is that I present you with my PLE today - the result of at least 3 of those hissy fits and multiple reconstructed "castles" (of which I'm the queen, I might add).
My PLE starts with me in the middle. Within the circle, there are 4 clouds which represent what I want/need to do and what kind of technology I use to accomplish that.
Google searches and Wikipedia are how I start the bulk of my research, taking the information gathered with a healthy dose of skeptism. I get carried away with these searches and it can eat up a lot of my time, but in the process I do end up learning a lot (related or unrelated to my original search). My searches connect me to YouTube videos and podcasts. Being newer to del.icio.us, I use it mainly to find web bookmarks as opposed to storing and sharing. I would like to expand my use of del.icio.us over the coming months.
Want to Share?
After researching educational uses for Twitter for my mid-term presentation, I am spending time sharing grammar tips with my followers via Twitter. While the 140-character limit initially annoyed me, I am now finding it refreshing that the tips have to be so concise. I find I use the retweet function a lot because there are experts out there who can perhaps say it better, and I figure why not share their words with my followers too (why reinvent the wheel?). I am quite new to Google docs but have started using it to collaborate with my colleagues, and my students and I tend to send Word documents back and forth. I also share pictures via flickr and thoughts through my blogs and find others share with me that way too.
Want to Connect?
Connecting is very valuable to me. Since I teach online for 30 hours of my week, I need to find ways to feel connected with the outside world in general, with our team of instructors, and with my students. As archaic as it may sound, email is still one of my top connecting tools. I like having a record of the information that my colleagues pass back and forth via email. Skype is another favourite of mine, with both colleagues and students. It is continually improving its features and I am pretty content to keep using it as long as it continues to meet my needs. I have connected with my University of Manitoba classmates through ivocalize, enjoying my first cups of coffee on Saturday mornings as we enter into stimulating discussions on the topic for the week. Oovoo and WiZiQ have been good platforms for connecting with my peers and my hope is that WiZiQ will house an online workshop some peers and I are organizing in Manitoba this winter. It is exciting to me that we can invite Nik Peachey to conduct a workshop using technology instead of buying him a plane ticket. I keep abreast of people's activities and ideas via Twitter, and that helps keep me connected, as does Facebook, although I think I've mentioned in previous discussions that I am a lurker. I still see Facebook as getting me connected; even if I don't participate much, I learn a lot about friends I have been too busy to see.
Want to Reflect?
Writing my thoughts down is the most effective way for me to reflect. I discover things about my thought/learning process when I blog about it. I really like using blogger for this purpose and keep a variety of separate blogs for a different purposes.
So, that covers what is inside the circle in my PLE. I felt it was important to add all the ways I learn when I disconnect myself from technology so that is what you see outside of the circle. I am attached to technology for work (30 hours), run the household by email, and relax by writing on the fun, personal blog only close friends and family can access . Over the years, I have struggled to find balance and have pushed myself to go offline more. Instead of having online discussions with colleagues and students, I am challenging myself to add some face-to-face meetings into the mix. I learn from interacting with my family and friends at the dinner table, over a coffee date, and at my book club. I really enjoy good old fashioned finger-licking, page-turning books and newspapers.
There are so many ways to learn and my PLE will continue to reflect that. The process of analyzing how I learn has been an eye-opening continuous process. In fact, I just had a few more ideas on what I should change and a few more tools I could add.
When will it end?
The point is, it won't. After all, I am a lifelong learner.